COMMENTARY 863.2: Why Martin Luther King Is a Hero

by Michael Josephson on January 20, 2014

in Commentaries, Leadership, Service

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The dictionary defines a hero as “a person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life.” A “personal hero” is someone you or I hold in especially high esteem. For me, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is both a national and personal hero.

I have no illusions that he was a flawless man. I simply have the conviction that his virtues far outweighed his faults and that this nation is a better place because of him.

When I read his speeches and weigh them in the context of his times, and consider his ability and courage to pursue his aggressive, but nonviolent, humanitarian principles, despite enormous pressures from those who thought he was going too far, as well as those who thought he wasn’t going far enough, I conclude that he was an extraordinarily inspirational leader with uncommon vision and strength.

Dr. King didn’t simply talk about his dreams; he went to the battle lines time and time again to fight for them. Before he was finally murdered at the age of 39, his home had been bombed and he knew he put his life at risk continuously to advocate social justice, human dignity, and an end to racism and bigotry.

We have not yet fully reached Dr. King’s Promised Land, where all people will be judged by the content of their character, but we are certainly closer to it because of him.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Bruce Brode February 1, 2013 at 8:34 pm

“…the content of their character…” shall forever be the words by which Dr. King is most profoundly remembered, because he defined what was at the essence of the evaluation and appreciation of human behavior — what defines it at its apex? What do we as a species seek as our highest aspiration in our interactions with one another?

What Dr, King expressed is a supremely powerful and universal concept, to which all human beings should aspire and to which all should be held to account, and we should apply it routinely in our individual dealings with others — it is a behavioral and cultural standard that he established. As a concept, it is not constraining, rather it is liberating in its emphasis on identifying the best we should look for in others.

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Brenda January 22, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Well said, Michael and Bruce Brode as well.

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Peggy wilson January 23, 2014 at 10:20 pm

Read an autobiography on George Washington and maybe your definition of a national and personal hero will change…. I would much rather have a George Washington Day, someone who really put their life on the line for a whole country and cause, not for one race…. Presidents day doesn’t count… That celebrates ALL presidents….

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